Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book-A-Day #50 (9/5): Sloth by Gilbert Hernandez

To my mind, Gilbert is the Hernandez brother with more daring -- his brother Jaime is a slightly better artist, and probably more popular, but Gilbert has a fearlessness and a willingness to try anything on the comics page that is breathtaking.

This is his first major work that has nothing to do with Love and Rockets, the comic he and Jaime (and a third brother, who quickly dropped out) started about twenty-five years ago. That overstates the case, though: it's a magic-realist story set in the southwestern US (probably somewhere in California), about a group of Mexican-Americans -- just like much of his Love and Rockets work.

Sloth is the story of a love triangle and a year-long coma that might -- or might not -- have been self-willed. The question of who was in the coma is also not as clear-cut as you might expect. It doesn't work as well as Gilbert's best Love and Rockets work, but it's a major novel in comics form, as well as being a great introduction to Gilbert's work for someone for whom twenty-five years of Love and Rockets is just too daunting.

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